Launching Experts in Demand: Why Connecting Experts with the Media Matters

Today we’re launching a new platform we call “Experts in Demand.” We want to create a movement that will inspire and enable many more academic experts to confidently step up to speak about their research and share their perspectives with the media.  There’s never been a more critical time for credible academic experts to provide evidence-based information to counter misinformation and build public trust. 

ExpertFile’s own commissioned analysis has shown that less than 20% of academics are externally engaged in promoting their research and experience through the media. Given the massive research investments made with public funds, this is a significant gap.  While many will point to a global pandemic as proof that the world needs the innovative ideas of experts more than ever, the amount of misinformation swirling over the past year also suggests we have a long way to go. 

While we will aim for this to become a global effort incorporating experts from all sectors, we’re first focusing on an important market of academics and universities across North America and the UK (a community of roughly 5,000 higher education institutions and over 1 million experts). 

There are 3 things that we need to do:

  • Prepare and Support Experts: Many experts, especially those in higher education need to be better communicators.  We need to help them first to understand the importance of making their research more relatable beyond academia where it can benefit the public – the same people who are helping to fund academic research.  And then we need to support them with communications/media training that helps them demonstrate the impact of their research in more relatable ways through the media.
  • Make Experts More Discoverable: While this is clearly an area where we have focused, we still have more work to do here.   Our newsroom research conducted in partnership with the Associated Press shows that finding credible experts for stories remains a time-consuming process.  Diversity also remains an issue, with audiences looking for balanced coverage and fresh voices. Together with our institutional and corporate clients we are committed to helping media find experts.  
  • Build the Public Trust in Experts: Research by organizations including Edelman, Pew Research Center and Poynter point to a number of disturbing trends that show an erosion of trust in media.  It’s no secret that rampant misinformation is a key contributor to this. Amidst a growing mess of fake news, political polarization, political rhetoric and social unrest, experts have a duty to share evidence-based perspectives through the media and other suitable channels of reach and influence.  

To meet these needs, ExpertFile has become a dedicated supporter and sponsor of a new campaign in partnership with the University Alliance in the UK to encourage more academics to become involved in (and realise the benefits) of media opportunities. 

As well as the stated goal to double the number of academics working with the media over the next three years, this campaign is also about broadening diversity so that there is a far better representation of academic voices from under-represented groups. 

The University Alliance is providing pro bono media coaching, a network of academic media champions (to enable peer to peer guidance), and a series of ongoing activities to work with the media, academics, press officers and university leaders.

Our contribution at ExpertFile will be to improve the presentation and profile of academic experts. Those outside of academia often struggle to identify the right experts or to simply understand the practical nature of expertise. That is because most academic biographies are created for fellow academics and not for external audiences. 

For the University Alliance campaign we’ve created a special online experts centre (as part of the University Alliance website) that profiles 60 experts who speak to their personal experiences of working with the media. 

At ExpertFile we have built, with our higher education partners, the largest open, curated expert platform that provides access to thousands of global newsrooms.  However, we still have much to do. Our next step is to broaden this campaign across the universities and academic communities of North America and we’ve already started to have conversations within the US higher education sector.

Ultimately, we want this 20% (of engaged academics) to become 50% – so that the world can better tap into the highly credible, evidence-based, well-informed  and non-partisan value of experts.  It’s their guidance that will inform and shape the change we need to see in society, politics and business.

We invite you to join us on this journey.  Perhaps you’re an expert looking to better communicate the impact of your research.  Or you’re a corporate communications professional looking for ways to boost media coverage.  Or a journalist who can contribute your perspectives on how experts can better help the media cover important stories?  Or perhaps you can contribute to our mission as a partner.  Reach out and get involved.  We look forward to the conversation.